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What’s So Wrong About Buying Fake Luxury Goods Anyway?

I just want to own a darned bag. Or a darned shirt.
What’s So Wrong About Buying Fake Luxury Goods Anyway? I just want to own a darned bag. Or a darned shirt.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 48 hours or so, you must have heard about the drama that unfolded between supporters of two popular local celebrities. At the center of it all is a very expensive Dolce & Gabbana shirt.

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Arguments were thrown back and forth, proving or disproving the authenticity of the item. But, there was a significant number of people who thought that the whole thing was pointless. No, not because the debacle was about a shirt—a shirt—but because nobody really cares if it’s real or not. One commenter argued that as long you look good, then it should be all good. Another chimed in: Everyone wears fakes.

This sentiment sort of, kind of, rings true for a minute there, doesn’t it? Especially since there are some counterfeit items that can pass off as the real deal. Called Class As, sellers usually conspiringly whisper as they hand you the item, “these were made in the same factory as the originals.” Essentially, you can achieve the same effect that you would with an original. And again, lots of people do it, so, why shouldn’t you?

Fakes are Wrongs

The easy answer would be because it’s illegal and just because something is widespread doesn’t make it right. It’s a clear-cut answer.

"While the law does not explicitly mention counterfeit merchandise, it recognizes the rights of the original designers. The law thus affords several legal remedies to designers in order to protect their interests," explains Atty. Marco Lainez.

You can take it a step further and argue that counterfeit products are unregulated. You’re never sure if the products are sourced from seedy sweat-shops that employ children. Plus, fake goods are not taxed so they’re not paying their dues when it comes to the economy.

But if there are clear, concise, and black-and-white answers readily available, then why is it that the consumption of counterfeit goods is still so prevalent?

In this case, perhaps the very nature of luxury fashion works against it. If somebody grabbed another person’s bag in the street, nobody would argue that this is wrong—a crime for sure. You see the person and the scene of the crime.

But fashion is murkier. Fashion brands, especially the luxury ones, are usually handled by conglomerates. Even if you don’t see these corporations as anonymous, it is hard to see Karl Lagerfeld or Marc Jacobs as the victim of a young professional from the Philippines purchasing a knock-off.

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The problem with this is that a designer that lends his or her name to the brands is just one player in a whole ecosystem. If a person buys a fake, it means that they don’t buy an original. If enough people do this, plummeting sales lead to changes in the industry. Typically, they develop new technology to combat counterfeiting or end up having to sue copycats. These costs end up getting passed to the consumer. Another scenario is that lower demand could lead to lay-offs for people involved in the manufacturing process. Counterfeiting ends up damaging the very industry it tries to copy. 

A Personal Wrong

But what is all this legal, doomsday mumbo-jumbo? I just want to own a darned bag. Or a darned shirt.

The wrongness of purchasing a counterfeit item can also hit closer to home. Ultimately, the main ingredient of a counterfeit is deception. Something is passed off as something else. When you purchase a fake item, you become a part of this charade.

This begs the question: Why the need for all that deception? Surely, it’s not the quality, because copies are never as good as the original. Surely, it is not an investment piece because a fake piece does not appreciate in value. Surely, a generic or local item is comparable.

 The popularity of fake goods and defense of counterfeiting should offer an opportunity for introspection. To some degree, fashion is form of expression. You inevitably say something about yourself. This is true with luxury brands. Gucci is hip. Hermès values heritage. Goyard is about craftsmanship. In patronizing copies and choosing to brandish them despite knowing their fakeness, what do you end up saying about yourself?

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